Get Off Your Ashley Madison High Horse
Since the hacking attack on Ashley Madison.com, the infamous hookup site for those looking for an extramarital distraction, released millions of users personal information there have been reports of suicides and snickers at which government officials and minor celebrities have been caught red handed “sneaking off the reservation” as Saul Goodman would say. But no sentiment has been louder than the scores of opinion pieces expounding from some unearned moral high ground about the inherent wickedness of any dregs of our decaying society who would dare to step out of line and have an affair.
This mainstream media shaming and moral condemnation includes a piece by Emma Johnson at Forbes magazine laments that “about one in six married men in the United States were on the site. You know six married men. I know at least six married men. At least one in six of them was on Ashley Madison.” Johnson goes on to outline several tips for married women, (who are the official victims in this story and not the individuals whose information was leaked), to safe guard their financial futures in the event of a cheating spouse. With divorce settlements trending the way they generally do in North America, I can’t resist deferring to comedy Bill Burr on this one:
The real story of Ashley Madison is that a large website with millions of paying customers, a site that prided itself on security of that information, was arbitrarily attacked and compromised by what all evidence suggests, an individual hacker. The same thing happened on a smaller scale to eBay last May and of course who can forget the compromise of Apple’s iCloud service resulting in tons of private photos, being leaked and shared across the web.
So forgive me if I cannot share the moral outrage that 20 million men were using a site that catered to those looking for an extra-marital affair. If you are caught up in the salacious details that there were only a miniscule percentage of women using the site, or that most of the time men were chatting unknowingly with other men or fake accounts, then congratulations on missing the point entirely.
It doesn’t matter that the site was founded by a scumbag for other scumbags looking to engage in scumbaggery. The site was a victim of cyber terrorism and that affects every single one of us. Whether the target is Ashley Madison, eBay, Healthcare.gov, criminal records, banking information – someone who doesn’t like what you’re doing can access and disseminate your most private details (and keep in mind you don’t have full control of what ends up on a server somewhere).
But don’t wax on with smug superiority at millions of stupid men getting their comeuppance when what this event calls for is the same rage that was directed at the hackers that leaked photos of Jennifer Lawrence’s asshole. And if you really can’t get past the enormity of 1 in 6 married men being unfaithful, maybe we should take this is as an unexpected study that indicates perhaps, humans, and certainly human males aren’t exactly wired for monogamy in the first place…but as my old Vietnamese maître d' used to say, “now that’s a whole different story…”